US Beef Exports up
WASHINGTON -- Beef has long been a quintessential American staple, captured decades ago in the marketing slogan "Beef. It's What's for Dinner."
These days, however, more and more of the red meat is making its way from farms in the United States to tables in numerous countries abroad, where many diets are incorporating more beef.
One of the biggest increases has been in Hong Kong, one of two regions that are part of China but have separate trade policies.
According to U.S. Meat Export Federation data, Hong Kong's imports of U.S. beef have been steadily climbing since 2004, after a mad cow disease scare in 2003 settled down. The value of U.S. beef exports to Hong Kong has doubled since 2010, up to $331 million from $155 million. The number was only $198,000 in 2004.
As for mainland China, U.S. beef has been banned there since the mad cow scare, although there are signs that might end. If it does, that represents a major reopened market -- and many new opportunities -- for U.S. beef farmers.
At technical trade talks in Beijing in December, Chinese officials promised to ease restrictions on beef from the U.S. in 2014.
The recent spikes in Chinese demand for beef are due to a few factors. According to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report, one reason is food-safety incidents with Chinese poultry and pork, which pushed consumers toward preferring beef.